Have you ever wondered how the size of an acoustic guitar affects its sound? From the intimate, focused tones of a parlor guitar to the deep, resonant sound of a jumbo, the size and shape of an acoustic guitar can have a profound impact on its sonic characteristics.”
In this article, we’ll explore acoustic guitar sizes, their variations, and how to choose the perfect size that suits your needs.
Acoustic guitar sizes refer to the dimensions and proportions of the guitar body, which significantly influence the instrument’s tonal characteristics, projection, and playability.
Just like pieces of a musical puzzle, different sizes create distinct voices that cater to various playing styles and preferences.
The Spectrum of Acoustic Guitar Sizes
Acoustic guitars come in several sizes, each with its unique qualities and attributes. Let’s explore some common acoustic guitar sizes and their defining features:
Parlor Guitar: The parlor guitar is petite and charming, making it an ideal companion for intimate settings.
The name comes from the rooms in which the guitar was typically played in the late 19th century.
Some famous musicians who have been known to use the parlor guitar are, Eric Clapton, Mark Orton, Ed Sheehan, and John Mayer
Its smaller size results in a focused and balanced sound, perfect for fingerpicking and folk music.
Concert Guitar: Slightly larger than the parlor guitar, the concert guitar offers enhanced projection and volume. It strikes a balance between portability and sound, making it versatile for various genres.
It is often used in classical music and flamenco music with its full sound.
Grand Concert Guitar: With a larger body than the concert guitar, the grand concert guitar boasts a fuller sound and improved tonal complexity.
A popular choice for those who have a smaller stature and require an instrument that’s built to a shorter scale. Great choice for traveling musicians who often play live performances.
It’s suitable for fingerstyle playing and intricate arrangements.
Auditorium Guitar: The auditorium guitar, also known as the orchestra model (OM), features a well-rounded sound with a pronounced midrange.
More shallower than the dreadnought and narrower in width than a concert guitar. An Auditorium guitar brings the body closer to the player, making it feel more intimate and comfortable for stage use.
Some famous musicians who play it include Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, and Eric Clapton.
Grand Auditorium Guitar: Expanding on the auditorium guitar’s design, the grand auditorium guitar offers a versatile sound profile with enhanced bass response and overall volume.
It is a versatile mid-sized guitar that is a good choice for those who want a single guitar to travel with. The tone is great for strumming and picking. It performs well on stage and in the studio.
It suits a wide range of musical genres.
This guitar is known for its powerful voice and lower-mid-rich tones that make it a favored choice for country artists. Although it is a popular choice for musicians of all genres.
Some famous musicians who play the dreadnought guitar include Hank Williams Jr, Elvis Presley, Keith Richards, Thom Yorke, and Kurt Cobain.
The original dreadnought guitars were made for the Oliver Ditson Company and featured mahogany backs and sides and spruce tops.
Jumbo Guitar: The jumbo guitar lives up to its name with a massive body that delivers robust volume and a deep bass presence.
This is the largest of the guitar family with a deeper body than the popular dreadnought. The body is wider and deeper than traditional acoustic guitars, which gives them a unique appearance.
Jumbo’s are well suited to rhythm guitarists in country and folk rock, and produce a deep rich sound favored by heavy strummers. Some famous musicians who play this guitar are Elvis Presley, George Harrison of the Beatles, Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, and Pete Townshend of The Who.
Choosing the Right Acoustic Guitar Size for You
Selecting the right acoustic guitar size involves considering factors such as playing style, comfort, and tonal preferences. Here are some steps to guide you on your quest:
Identify Your Playing Style: Determine whether you lean towards fingerpicking, strumming, or a mix of both. Different sizes excel in different playing styles, so choose one that complements your technique.
Consider Body Comfort: Hold and play guitars of various sizes to assess comfort. A guitar that fits well against your body ensures a pleasant playing experience, especially during extended sessions.
Evaluate Sound Preferences: Listen to the sound produced by different acoustic guitar sizes. Pay attention to tonal qualities, such as warmth, brightness, and projection, to find the one that resonates with your musical taste.
The Influence of Acoustic Guitar Sizes on Music
The size of the guitar body type also relates to the volume of air within the instrument. Changes to the air capacity of the body will emphasize specific frequencies. A smaller body will have a more focused sound centered on higher frequencies, while a larger body will produce deeper low-end frequencies.
Body dimensions can provide some indication of the tone you might expect, but other factors exert a profound influence, too. Much depends on the tonewoods used to construct the body and the shape, size, and layout of the braces.
Finding Harmony in Acoustic Guitar Sizes
By delving into the nuances of size, sound, and playability, you’ve gained insights that will guide you toward the perfect fit for your musical aspirations.
As you continue your exploration, remember that each acoustic guitar size has its own unique voice and character. Embrace the joy of trying different sizes, celebrate the nuances of their sounds, and let your heart lead you to the one that resonates with your musical soul.